The Moderator of the Church of Scotland has urged ministers to “open their doors” for an hour a day – specifically for people to pray about the UK’s future relationship with Europe and beyond.
Right Reverend Susan Brown said churches should also invite local nationals from other EU countries to speak about the joy and challenges of living in the UK, and their experience of living in the UK at “this time of uncertainty”.
She laid out a raft of other suggestions which ministers could use to engage the local community, including hosting a Europe night to celebrate food and culture from across Europe and inviting local employers to talk about any challenges their business might be facing in the run-up to Brexit.
In an open letter to church leaders across Scotland, she said: “It will not have escaped your attention that we are currently living through a time of tumultuous change in the UK’s relationship with the EU. Across the country this change is having, and will continue to have, a profound impact on individual lives within our congregations and our communities.
“As the 29 March approaches, I am increasingly struck by the need within our communities for space to come together, to listen, to reflect and pray, to learn from and celebrate one another.”
She added: “This period has the potential to create division and distress amidst the uncertainty of what happens next. I believe that there is a place for the Church to work for hope, unity and peace.
“That is why this month, as the UK’s planned departure from the EU approaches, I am inviting congregations to open their doors, in partnership with other local churches and congregations, to provide spaces of welcome, and reflection: spaces in which our communities might come together and demonstrate hope in the face of uncertainty, belonging instead of rejection, and a joy in one another that surpasses our disagreements or political differences.”
Rt Rev Brown also suggested that churches should link with congregations in Europe through the International Presbytery, to hear about the experience of being a UK citizen living abroad at this time and also host a “vigil style service” with Brexit in mind.
She added: “This list is not exhaustive. I know too that there will be prayers posted weekly on the Church’s website, but hopefully these things together show some of the small, but significant ways in which we, the Church, can offer spaces of welcome, spaces of hope, spaces of joy and spaces of belonging in this time of uncertainty.”
Earlier this year, the Church of Scotland created a special prayer to “focus hearts and minds” ahead of a Commons Brexit vote. Rev Dr Martin Johnstone, secretary to the Church and society council of the Church of Scotland, penned the prayer, which focused on Jesus “breaking down barriers”.